How the Maoist-led Squatters Defended Their Land
Posted by Ka Frank on December 7, 2009
My Republica, December 5, 2009
Maoists could have averted squatter clash
DUDEJHARI BAN, Kailali: The tragedy in Kailali on Friday could have been avoided had the Maoists played a sensible role as it was the Maoist-affiliated All Nepal Squatters´ Association (ANSA) which led the illegal encroachment of Dudejhari forest since November 25.
ANSA had erected six entrances to the encroached forest area. Banners placed at the entrances read ´No entry without permission´. Initially, the encroachers were scattered far apart in the forest. ANSA later set up six areas on the basis of the election constituencies the squatters hailed from, to effectively manage their growing numbers. Local ANSA activists say central Maoist leaders had assured them of full support in the encroachment. “You live there. We are here at the center to fight for your cause,” an ANSA activist quoted a central-level Maoist leader as telling them Thursday.
It was reported by media that the squatters were preparing to retaliate in case the local administration tried to evict them.
“The number of people who have come to settle here has already reached 22,829. More are expected to come,” a Maoist cadre said a few days ago.A large number of Maoist cadres from Kailali and Kanchanpur had been moving about in the encroached area. Youth squads carrying sticks were keeping an eye on those visiting the area. ANSA activists had also used log books at all six entrance gates to record the names and addresses of those visiting there. They even tried to restrict the movement of journalists.
While the Maoist cadres were restricting the movement of outsiders, the squatters gathered inside were busy taking part in interaction programs and parades. “This is the daily routine here. Boys hold parades and play games. Else it will be difficult to pass the time,” a youth engaged in constructing huts had told myrepublica.com. “There is a need to prepare for retaliation.”
This means the Maoist cadres knew the police would come to evict them sooner than later. Sources said Maoist combatants from the nearby Gorunge Camp, a satellite cantonment under the Seventh Division of the People´s Liberation Army (PLA), had come to help train the youths.
According to eyewitnesses, most women, children and elderly people had already fled the forest when a large number of police reached there Friday to dismantle the illegally built huts. There were only youths left to retaliated against the police.
Eyewitnesses said the squatter youths were accompanied by local Maoist cadres including the Maoist combatants while they targeted the police with bricks, stones and home-made weapons. They had surrounded the police personnel from all sides. Initially, the police used no force. Only police personnel were injured until 4:15 p.m.
“There is no order from higher up to open fire. The encroachers cannot be chased away with sticks alone,” a policeman on duty had complained Friday. “The Maoist combatants are found to have come to retaliate against us.” Security officials said police opened fire after 31 police personnel on duty were injured by the youths accompanied by Maoist combatants.
Police said the encroachers also opened fire on them. But this has not been independently verified as of Saturday evening. Apprehensive of the firing by the Maoist combatants, police, before they went into action, requested journalists, human rights activists and the Red Cross team to leave the area.
A meeting in Dhangadhi of the police, the district administration and representatives of various political parties including the Maoists had decided to remove the encroachers from the forest on November 28. Maoist Kailali district in-charge Hari Gyawali had signed the decision.
A meeting of the Chief District Officer (CDO), police and representatives of various political parties held Sunday had decided to first ask the squatters to leave the forest area and also asked the District Forest Office (DFO) to take action as per the law of the land if they ignored the request.